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How to Make Meaningful Friendships – Virtually

Friendships are an important part of life, but if you’re like most of us these days, actually seeing your friends is a struggle ... or not happening at all. Due to social distancing guidelines and people wanting to remain healthy and safe, gatherings, lunches, happy hours and other friend-related activities can seem like things of the past.

“It’s important for everyone, but seniors especially, to make time to connect with the people they care about,” says Terri Geppner, Director of Community Relations at Aspired Living® of La Grange. “Staying social is great for your mental health, keeps you feeling positive and helps minimize the stress and anxiety that COVID-19 can bring.”

But how can you best balance social interaction and social isolation? It is possible – it just may require you to think a little bit more creatively.

“Obviously, scheduling regular phone calls or FaceTime chats with friends and family are a great way to stay caught up with everything going on during this isolation period,” says Terri. “But when nothing is really going on, these regular check-ins can get – sorry – kind of boring.”

Instead, she suggests, getting together virtually to do activities that you might normally do if you were face-to-face. “There are many technologies available these days that can help people play games, watch movies, work out together ... or, at the very least, virtually have dinner together. It’s all about finding ways for good conversation and shared experiences to help maintain a sense of normalcy and have fun while you’re at it.”

Fun Ideas for Meaningful (Virtual) Mingling

Hold a movie night.
A popular activity is getting together with a group of friends and watching a fun movie together. The streaming giant Netflix has created an option called Netflix Party that allows you to do just that. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback so everyone can watch the film at the same time, and also has a group chat option so you can share reactions and updates with your friends and other watchers.

Start, join or virtualize a book club.
Book clubs are highly popular gatherings – even if the talking about the book is minimal and the focus is more on socializing. If you already have a book club, it’s fairly easy to make it virtual with Zoom. This app allows you to see everyone on-screen at once, so it’s a little bit like being in the same room. Thanks to e-readers, you don’t have to worry about going to the library or entering a bookstore – you can simply download it to your tablet without ever having to leave home. Make some snacks, grab a beverage and have fun chatting over themes, plot points and other favorite (or not favorite) parts of the book.

Play games.

Board games are another “gather ‘round the table” fun activity that may seem impossible to do virtually. But, surprise – there are dozens of ways to link up with friends and play games online. If you have a gaming console that allows you to link up with other friends, that’s one way of doing it. But for those who aren’t really into those types of video games, there are also virtual board games and card games available. Words with Friends (a kind of Scrabble), Cards Against Humanity and others are available online and can be a rousing good time.

Work out together.

Work out, you say? Virtually? Why, yes – and best of all, this can be something that you do virtually or in-person (as long as you stay six feet apart from one another). Getting outside is okay and encouraged to pick up some Vitamin D and fresh air. If you want to exercise together IRL (“in real life”), head to a local park to walk around the path, go biking or meet up someplace to take a hike. If you’d rather “work in,” do a video conference with your friend and stream one of the many workout videos available online. Some channels are offering online live classes, too – which may be even easier than trying to coordinate synchronized streaming.

Enjoy a meal together.

Here’s another favorite activity that can be virtual or in-person (albeit distanced). Grab some takeout from a favorite restaurant and dine side-by-side in your cars. Or, plan on making the same meal and FaceTiming one another through the meal prep and actual dining experience.

Opportunities for Bonding Abound

Terri says that even though connecting virtually may seem less personal at first, it actually presents seniors with a rare opportunity to build and nurture meaningful relationships.

“There’s something surprisingly intimate and focused about sitting down, turning on a camera and chatting face to face with someone across the screen,” she says. “Far from being impersonal ... it actually gives us the chance to slow down, focus on each other, remove distractions and simply enjoy being in each other’s presence. By embracing new virtual technology and being flexible, you may discover a favorite new way to connect with others everywhere from next door to across the world.”

Terri says that, at Aspired Living® of La Grange, residents are embracing virtual technology in order to stay connected to their loved ones, even during a pandemic lockdown. “We’re glad we’re able to provide entertainment and connection for our residents in a safe and secure environment,” she says. “Not only is it great for their mental health, it’s great for our staff members, as well! Technology is a wonderful connector that brings all ages together in a fun, accessible way.”

For more information about our innovative new senior living community, please contact us at 708-365-8593.

Live Well. Age Well. Be Well. At Aspired Living® of La Grange.

When you step through the doors of our Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Support community, you’ll notice ... something different. Something exciting. Something exceptional! At Aspired Living® of La Grange, we believe that moving to senior living is something that should be supported and celebrated. 

Wellness is at the heart of everything we do at Aspired Living of La Grange. From

VIVA!, award-winning programming that inspires each resident every day to live engaged, connected and fulfilled to VIVA! Plus, which brings coordinated healthcare right to our residents' apartments, we do all we can to ensure that our residents Live Well. Age Well. Be Well!

Every day is a new opportunity to grow, laugh, share, learn and thrive. Gather with friends for delicious, nutritious meals in our all-day dining room, or enjoy a lively happy hour in our wine bar. Relax with a massage or spa treatment in our spa and salon. Stay fit and healthy with our fitness center or spend the day painting in our art studio. It’s all up to you!

Offering a lifestyle designed to inspire the whole person, Aspired Living® of La Grange provides seniors with the best of both worlds – the exceptional care they require and the inspiring senior living experience they deserve.

To learn more about our community or to reserve your apartment, contact us at 708-365-8593.